BART has yet another PR problem on its hands after The Bay Citizen reported the BART PR department concocted a plan to stop planned protests back in August.
Critics say the BART plan was intended to manipulate the media and the public. BART admits it recruited loyal commuters and gave them a prepared script to read at an Aug. 11 press conference. BART also hired two private cars to get the chosen riders to the press conference at a cost of more than $800. The press conference was an attempt to stop a planned protest against BART police for shooting a knife-wielding passenger on July 3.
In an email sent to staffers BART chief spokesman Linton Johnson told them to, "Coach each person to ensure you know what they are going to say when they fill in the blanks and rehearse what they are going to say ... make sure all are under a minute or two minutes."
BART board president Bob Franklin confirmed to NBC Bay Area that the PR plan did in fact happen. He said it is not unusual for a public relations department to script a press conference.
Franklin later told KGO that the plan was a "decision made in error" and "It's not a wise investment for our taxpayer money."
This happened on the same day (Aug. 11) Johnson admits to giving the go ahead to cut wireless cell service at BART's Civic Center station. That moved sparked an entirely news controversy for BART and Johnson.
The decision to shut off cell service sparked a new round of protests by the group Anonymous. It also was the spark that turned very personal for Johnson himself when someone connected to Anonymous released racy photos on line.